When you combine the convenience of online shopping with the good feelings that come from contributing to a worthy cause, it's easy to see why the best online charity gifts are popular options for any occasion.
1. Heifer International
Heifer International assists poor families around the world by providing them with livestock and the training they need to use the animals as a source of continuing nourishment. For set donation amounts, you can order cows, sheep, llamas, water buffalos, goats, and many other useful animals in the name of friends and family members. This unique touch makes the gift more meaningful than a simple monetary donation. The site's printable gift cards make it even easier to share news of your gift with the recipient.
Website: Heifer International
2. Oxfam Unwrapped
Oxfam Unwrapped operates under a similar model as Heifer International, providing needed supplies to individuals in impoverished areas. You can help plant trees, give a woman the training she needs to start a small business, or buy a desk so a student can have a better learning experience. Oxfam will send cards to gift recipients to let them know a contribution has been made in their honor. Oxfam does reserve the right to use your donation as it sees fit, so your money won't always provide the symbolic gift you've chosen.
Website: Oxfam Unwrapped
Nest is dedicated to changing the lives of women in developing countries by providing small loans. In these economies, a few hundred dollars can build an entire business and lead to a lifetime of self-sufficiency. Nest raises funds for the loans through its online store. You can find an array of great gift options, with everything from stylish clothing and accessories to note cards to stuffed animals for kids. Read the product details to find designs from loan recipients, and support their efforts even more. While many of the best online charity gifts don't result in tangible items, it can be fun to actually have a gift to wrap and present while still making a difference.
4. Adopt-an-Animal Programs
A donation in the name of preserving the world's wildlife is a great gift for animal lovers that can also be educational. For example, with The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, you can "Adopt a Gorilla" or you can "Adopt a Seal" with The Marine Mammal Center. The World Wildlife Fund offers a full line-up of animals in its adoption program. The recipient usually receives a photo of the animal and information about its life and habitat. Depending on the program, he or she may also get a newsletter subscription or a stuffed toy.
5. eBay Giving Works
You can snag some memorable gifts while supporting great charities with the Giving Works category at eBay. Find tickets to sporting events, autographed memorabilia, front-row seats to hot concerts, and more. If these big-ticket items are a bit too much for your budget, there are also hundreds of smaller items for sale, so it's worth browsing the selection for gift ideas. The auctions state what percentage of the final sale price will be donated. Many items are listed at 100 percent, so you get more donation power with your purchase.
Website: eBay Giving Works
6. Greater Good
You may be familiar with the concept of The Hunger Site and the related charitable sites for issues like animal welfare and breast cancer prevention. Visitors can click on a button to donate each day, and sponsors provide the donation, usually described in quantifiable terms like ".8 cups of food". Greater Good is an offshoot of these efforts, offering an online shopping destination with gifts for every taste. A portion of the proceeds from all sales go towards charitable causes, and each donation is described in specific terms. For instance, each purchase of a pink candle from The Breast Cancer Site will fund one percent of a mammogram. Many of the items themselves help raise awareness, making it a gift that keeps on giving.
Website: Greater Good
When you register with iGive and shop through its web portal, a percentage of your purchases will be donated to a charity of your choice. It's a great way to get a little extra mileage out of your everyday spending, including gifts. The available stores include big names like Best Buy and Gap, so the site offers more variety than most other sources for the best online charity gifts. However, iGive doesn't provide the same impact as a concrete sign of your donation, like a photo of the animal you've helped. In fact, the recipient need never know your gift has resulted in a charitable donation.